The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) erects the inaugural platform on the Capitol's West Front, sets up the necessary seating and fencing on the grounds, and coordinates other activities with the Joint Congressional Committee on the Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) regarding all of the physical arrangements that are necessary to accommodate this event.

Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol

The 20th amendment to the Constitution specifies that the term of each elected President of the United States begins at noon on January 20 of the year following the election. Each president must take the oath of office before assuming the duties of the position.

With the 2021 inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr., the oath has been taken 73 different times by the 46 Presidents of the United States. This numerical discrepancy results chiefly from two factors: a president must take the oath at the beginning of each term of office, and, because Inauguration Day has sometimes fallen on a Sunday, four Presidents (Hayes [1877], Wilson [1917], Eisenhower [1957], and Reagan [1985]) have taken the oath privately before the public inaugural ceremonies. In addition, President Arthur took the oath privately following the death of President Garfield and again two days later in the Capitol. Grover Cleveland is considered the 22nd and 24th presidents, having served two nonconsecutive terms (1885-1889 and 1893-1897).

The oaths administered to date have been taken place in the following locations:

  • U.S. Capitol (55 occasions)
    • East Portico — 34
    • Hall of the House of Representatives — 6
    • Senate Chamber — 3
    • West Front — 9
    • East Front of Original Senate Wing — 1
    • President's Room — 1
    • Rotunda — 1
    • Vice President's Room — 1
  • White House — 6
  • Old Brick Capitol (1st & A Sts., N.E.; site of present Supreme Court Building) — 1
  • Washington, D.C. (not in Capitol or White House) — 2
  • Outside Washington, D.C. — 7

Key Historic Dates and Details

Presidential Inaugurals

Read about Vice Presidential Inaugurations here.


Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath in 2021.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath in 2021.
Date President Notes
January 20, 2021 Joseph R. Biden Jr.  
January 20, 2017 Donald J. Trump  
January 21, 2013 Barack Obama  
January 20, 2009 Barack Obama  
January 20, 2005 George W. Bush  
January 20, 2001 George W. Bush
  • First time that a former president (George H.W. Bush) attended their son's inauguration as president.


President Ronald Reagan's inauguration at the U.S. Capitol 1981.
President Ronald Reagan's inauguration at the U.S. Capitol 1981.
Date President Notes
January 20, 1997 William J. Clinton
  • First time that the ceremony was broadcast live on the Internet.
  • First inaugural that fell on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
January 20, 1993 William J. Clinton  
January 20, 1989 George H.W. Bush  
January 20, 1985 & January 21, 1985 Ronald Reagan
  • First time that the oath was taken in the Rotunda.
  • First inaugural that fell on a Super Bowl Sunday.
  • The Bible was placed on a marble-topped table that was built for the second inaugural of Abraham Lincoln. The table was constructed with an iron baluster cast for the Capitol dome in the 1860's.
  • First time a television camera was placed inside the president's limousine from the Capitol to the White House.
January 20, 1981 Ronald Reagan
  • Outdoor band concert was held on the West Front lawn on the day before the inaugural.
  • First inaugural held on the West Terrace of the Capitol.
  • First time that room EF-100 was used as a holding room.
  • First closed-captioning of television broadcast for the hearing impaired.
  • First post-inaugural luncheon held in Statuary Hall.
  • Post-inaugural luncheon was partially televised.
  • Nine inaugural balls were held.
  • First time that an inaugural ball was held in a legislative building (Rayburn House Office Building).
  • Balls were transmitted by satellite to 32 ballroom sites across the country.
January 20, 1977 Jimmy Carter
  • Folding chairs instead of wooden benches were used on the East Plaza.
  • Used an old family Bible; second Bible on lectern had been used at inauguration of George Washington.
  • At Carter's request, the traditional inaugural luncheon was not held.
  • First president to walk all the way from the Capitol to the White House with their family after ceremony.
  • First time that an outgoing President left from the Capitol Grounds aboard a helicopter.
  • Solar heat was used in the reviewing stand.
  • Provisions were made for the handicapped to watch the parade.
August 4, 1974 Gerald R. Ford
  • First unelected vice president to assume the presidency.
  • First vice president to assume the presidency under the provisions of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which specifies that, upon the resignation of the president, the vice president shall become president.
January 20, 1973 Richard M. Nixon  
January 20, 1969 Richard M. Nixon
  • Only persons with special invitations to the ceremony were admitted to the Capitol Grounds.
  • Two Bibles were used in the inauguration; they were family heirlooms, dated 1928 and 1873.
January 20, 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson
  • First time that a press gallery was installed on the Capitol Grounds.
  • First use of a bullet-proofed, closed limousine.
November 22, 1963 Lyndon B. Johnson
  • First time that the oath was administered in an airplane (Air Force One, a Boeing 707, at Love Field in Dallas, Texas).
  • First time that the oath was administered by a woman, Sarah T. Hughes, U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Texas.
January 20, 1961 John F. Kennedy
  • First president to be inaugurated on the extended East Front.
  • First time that a Speaker of the House administered the oath of office to the vice president. (Previously the oath had been given by either the President pro tempore of the Senate, the ex-Vice President, or a United States Senator.)
  • First time a poet, Robert Frost, participated in the official ceremonies at the Capitol. (See official program.)
  • First time that both parents of the president-elect attended their son's inauguration.
  • As the first Catholic elected president, Kennedy was the first to use a Catholic (Douay) version of the Bible for their oath.
  • First inaugural parade for which Army flame throwers were used to clear snow from Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • First appearance of the Air Force Academy Band in the parade.
  • First time that the parade was televised in color (NBC).
  • First inauguration celebrated with five balls.
  • Last president to wear traditional stovepipe hat to the inauguration.
January 20, 1957 & January 21, 1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • First time that a president was inaugurated for a term limited by the Constitution (22nd Amendment).
  • First presidential luncheon, held in the Old Supreme Court Chamber (S-228) in the Capitol.
January 20, 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Broke with custom by reciting their own improvised prayer instead of kissing the Bible.
  • A presidential preference made homburgs an inaugural must, displacing traditional black toppers.
January 20, 1949 Harry S. Truman
  • First inauguration to be televised.
April 12, 1945 Harry S. Truman  
January 20, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • First and only time a president was inaugurated for a fourth term. (The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1951, restricts the presidency to two terms.)
January 20, 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • First president to take the oath of office for a third term.
January 20, 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • First president to be inaugurated on the January 20th date, a change made by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • First time the vice president-elect was inaugurated out-of-doors on the same platform with the president-elect. No vice-presidential address was given.
March 4, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt  
March 4, 1929 Herbert Hoover
  • First inaugural to be recorded by a talking newsreel.
March 4, 1925 Calvin Coolidge
  • First time an ex-president (William Taft) administered the oath of office as Chief Justice.
  • First inaugural to be broadcast nationally by radio.
August 3, 1923 Calvin Coolidge
  • Oath of office given by the president's father, a Vermont Justice of the Peace.
March 4, 1921 Warren G. Harding
  • First president to ride to and from their inaugural in an automobile.
  • First use of loudspeakers at an inaugural.
  • First use of the steel-framed inaugural stand that was used until 1981.
March 4, 1917 & March 5, 1917 Woodrow Wilson
  • Broke the precedent by taking the oath on a Sunday.
  • First time that the oath has been taken privately in the President's Room at the Capitol.
  • First time that floodlights (as opposed to temporary searchlights) were used to illuminate the Capitol dome during an inaugural.
  • First time that women participated in the inaugural parade.
March 4, 1913 Woodrow Wilson
  • The traditional inaugural ball was suspended.
March 4, 1909 William H. Taft
  • First time that a president's wife rode with her husband in the procession from the Capitol to the White House.
  • First use of an automobile in an inaugural parade (President Taft was not an occupant).
  • First time that the dome was illuminated; temporary searchlights were used.
March 4, 1905 Theodore Roosevelt
  • First time that telephones were installed on the Capitol Grounds for an inaugural.
September 14, 1901 Theodore Roosevelt  
March 4, 1901 William McKinley
  • First time that the House of Representatives was allowed to join with the Senate in making arrangements for the inaugural.


Abraham Lincoln's second presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in 1865.
Abraham Lincoln's second presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in 1865.
Date President Notes
March 4, 1897 William McKinley
  • First inaugural recorded by movie camera.
  • Had glass-enclosed reviewing stand in front of the White House.
March 4, 1893 Grover Cleveland  
March 4, 1889 Benjamin Harrison  
March 4, 1885 Grover Cleveland  
September 20, 1881 & September 22, 1881 Chester A. Arthur
  • First time the oath of office has been taken in the Vice President's Room of the Capitol.
  • Two ex-presidents (Grant and Hayes) were present at this ceremony.
March 4, 1881 James Garfield
  • The first time that a mother of the president attended the inaugural ceremonies.
  • First president to review the procession from a stand in front of the White House.
March 3, 1877 & March 5, 1877 Rutherford B. Hayes
  • First president to take the oath of office in the White House.
  • Was sworn in prior to Inauguration Day, because it fell on Sunday. Took oath privately on Saturday, March 3, and publicly on Monday, March 5, 1877.
March 4, 1873 Ulysses S. Grant
  • First time that a congressional committee called for the president at the White House and escorted him to the Capitol.
  • First time that the governors of the states were invited to participate in inaugural events.
March 4, 1869 Ulysses S. Grant  
April 15, 1865 Andrew Johnson
  • First instance of the Chief Justice administering the oath of office to the vice president upon the death of the president.
March 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln
  • First time that African-Americans participated in the inaugural parade.
March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln  
March 4, 1857 James Buchanan
  • First inaugural known to have been photographed.
March 4, 1853 Franklin Pierce
  • Drove to and from the Capitol standing up in their carriage.
  • Affirmed (rather than swore) the oath of office.
  • Broke precedent by not kissing the Bible, but merely placing their left hand on it.
  • First president to deliver inaugural address without referring to notes.
July 10, 1850 Millard Filmore  
March 5, 1849 Zachary Taylor  
March 4, 1845 James Polk
  • First inaugural to be covered by telegraph.
  • First known newspaper illustration of a presidential inauguration (The Illustrated London News).
April 6, 1841 John Tyler
  • First vice president to assume the presidency due to the death of the president.
March 4, 1841 William H. Harrison
  • First president to arrive in Washington by railroad for their inaugural.
  • Longest inaugural address (10,000 words).
  • Broke precedent by beginning address, taking oath, and then resuming address.
  • First official planning of a parade to follow the inaugural at the Capitol. The parade or inaugural planning committee was appointed by the local political organization of the party victorious in the national election.
March 4, 1837 Martin Van Buren
  • First time that outgoing and incoming presidents (Jackson and Van Buren) rode together in a carriage to the Capitol for the inaugural.
  • First use of inaugural programs.
  • First use of floats in an inaugural parade.
  • First time two inaugural balls were held.
March 4, 1833 Andrew Jackson  
March 4, 1829 Andrew Jackson
  • First president to take the oath of office on the East Portico of the Capitol.
March 4, 1825 John Q. Adams
  • First president sworn in wearing long trousers. (Prior to this presidents wore colonial-era breeches and stockings.)
March 4, 1821 James Monroe  
March 5, 1817 James Monroe
  • First president to take the oath out-of-doors in Washington.
March 4, 1813 James Madison  
March 4, 1809 James Madison
  • First inaugural held in the Hall of the House.
  • First inaugural ball to be held on the day of the inauguration.
  • The United States Marine Band set a precedent by playing for the inaugural ball.
March 5, 1805 Thomas Jefferson  
March 4, 1801 Thomas Jefferson
  • Began the custom of writing to Congress to accept the inauguration and arrange the time for the ceremonies.
  • The first and probably only president to walk to and from their inaugural.
  • First president to be inaugurated at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (in the then Senate Chamber).
  • First newspaper extra of an inaugural address, printed by the National Intelligencer.


Cox Corridors mural depicting Washington's Inauguration, 1789.
Cox Corridors mural in the U.S. Capitol depicting Washington's Inauguration, 1789.
Date President Notes
March 4, 1797 John Adams
  • First president to receive the oath from the Chief Justice of the United States (Oliver Ellsworth).
March 4, 1793 George Washington
  • Shortest inaugural address (135 words).
April 30, 1789 George Washington
  • Oath of office taken out-of-doors (balcony of Federal Hall in New York City).
  • Set the precedent of kissing the Bible after the oath.
  • Fireworks concluded the day's celebration, all of which was paid for by private citizens.
  • Because of pressing public business, the inaugural ball was held on May 7. The president's wife, Martha, did not make the trip to New York.

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